Death Valley National Park remains closed to visitors after flash flooding

Death Valley National Park remains closed to visitors after flooding in the area last week.
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 11:21 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - After historic flash flooding Friday, Death Valley National Park remains closed days later. Tuesday, park rangers escorted FOX5 to get a firsthand look at why.

At Daylight Pass Road deep in the park, flood waters redesigned the road, layering chunks of asphalt. Pieces weighing 50 to 70 pounds were swept away and washed deep into the desert.

“It was definitely a historic event,” said Matthew Lamar, Death Valley National Park Ranger. The park will remain closed until roads are once again safe to drive. One major problem: the dirt on the road when kicked up by cars can create dust clouds, making it hard to see while driving. Some roads also still have debris all the way to the center line.

The normally bustling Furnace Creek Visitor Center sits deserted.

“Summer is surprisingly busy here in Death Valley. August is often our busiest month,” explained Lamar. Summers normally reach 110 or 115 degrees even at midnight, so most visitors just drive through for the day. Park rangers say that’s fortunate. No one was out camping or hiking during the flash flood.

Caltrans is now working overtime repairing the main road through the park, Highway 190.

“As our crews continue to remove debris from the highway. We are uncovering spots where there is damaged pavement, more undercutting, and more shoulders that will need to be repaired,” Christopher Andriessen, Public Information Officer of Maintenance with Caltrans District 9 shared.

“There is a lot of mud or rock that we have piled up on the highway that we have to get out of there…. So far, we have cleaned up about 20 miles worth. The next 10 miles though is going to be the most difficult spot… where the mud is the deepest,” Andriessen added.

Caltrans is hoping to get Highway 190, cleared as soon as Wednesday, August 17.

Park rangers warn Google Maps and other navigation apps have some of the road closures in the area are incorrect. People are being guided onto dirt roads that are closed. Do not rely solely on your GPS in Death Valley right now.